What are the responsibilities of an Executor

17th May 2017

You were appointed as an executor because your loved one trusted you to handle their estate. Sadly, the time has come to reward that trust.

What is an executor?

To put it simply, the responsibilities of an executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased in accordance with their last Will. As the executor you are now in control of the “estate”.

What is the estate?

The estate is simply the collection of all the assets such as land, houses, goods, shares and anything else of value as well as any liabilities. The estate is what is left behind after a person passes.

Some roles of the executors are:

• Applying for a grant of probate;
• Informing beneficiaries of their gifts;
• Paying the debts of the estate;
• Selling assets; and
• Distributing the estate in accordance with the will.

When does your role start?

You may have been informed that you are going to be the executor before your loved one passed away. If so, your role may have started immediately upon death and may include informing the family, arranging the funeral, informing the bank, and locating the will.

However, you may have only found out you were the executor once the Will was located, and someone else had already arranged all the above.

Your primary role as executor is to locate all the assets and debts of the deceased, calculate the value the estate and if necessary file documents with the Court. There are legal issues at this point and often the executor will work with a lawyer to assist them.

After probate is granted, you become the official “personal representative”. Now you have the power to deal with the property. You can sell property, pay debts and distribute the assets. You must responsibly follow the instructions given to you in the Will.

What if you do not want to be an executor?

You may not feel like you’re up for the job especially in this emotional time.

If you do not want to be an executor, you have different options including:

• Retain a lawyer to do the legwork for you;
• In some cases, a second executor is named in the will. Ask them to perform the role; and
• If no other executor is listed, you can make an application to the Court to have the Court appoint somebody else.

If you don’t want to be an executor, it is important to decide prior to obtaining probate. Once probate is received and you are officially appointed, it becomes much harder and more expensive to reverse. 

Please note the content of this post is information only and not legal advice.  If you require legal advice it is best to contact one of our lawyers who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.

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